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From Dayton to Dover: A History of the Evolution Teaching Legal Controversy in America
William A. Brahms Lecture on Law and Religion presented by the Center for Professional Ethics
OCT 16, 2008
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Moot Courtroom

Professor Larson will introduce the rich history of the creation-evolution legal controversy in the United States. The controversy centers on the efforts by some parents and religious organizations to limit the teaching of evolution in American public schools. Scientists, civil liberties groups, and some school administrators and teachers typically oppose these efforts in the name of teaching good science.

The legal battle, however, is fought over the Establishment Clause. The Constitution does not mandate teaching good science, but it is interpreted by the Courts to bar public schools from promoting a religious viewpoint. Larson will explore the history of judicial interpretations of the Establishment Clause as applied to various specific efforts to limit the teaching of evolution in public school over the past century. The legal controversy will be set in its cultural and religious context to give a deeper appreciation of constitutional law and its practical application in everyday disputes over classroom instruction and public-school education.
Speaker Information
Edward J. LarsonEdward J. Larson
University Professor of History and Hugh & Hazel Darling Professor of Law
Pepperdine University

Edward J. Larson is recipient of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History. He served as Associate Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor (1983-87) and an attorney with a major Seattle law firm (1979-83) and retains faculty position at the University of Georgia, where he has taught since 1987.

The author of seven books and over seventy published articles, Larson writes mostly about issues of science, medicine and law from an historical perspective. His books include A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign; Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (2006 rev. ed.); Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South (1995), and the Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (1997; 2006 ed. with new afterword).

Prof. Larson's articles have appeared in such varied journals as Nature, Time, Atlantic Monthly, Science, Scientific American, The Nation, Wall Street Journal, Isis, and seventeen different law reviews, including Virginia Law Review, Michigan Law Review, and Constitutional Commentary. He is the co-author or co-editor of seven additional books, including (most recently) The Essential Words and Writings of Clarence Darrow (2007), The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison (2005) and a property law casebook with Aspen (2nd Ed. 2008).

The Fulbright Program named Larson to the John Adams Chair in American Studies for 2001; he participated in the National Science Foundation’s 2003-04 Antarctic Artists and Writers Program; and he serves on the National Institutes of Heath’s study section for the Ethics, Legal and Social Implications of the Human Genome Project.
Additional Information
Open to the public at no cost. There will be one free hour of CLE credit available to lawyers who attend.

Supplemental Readings:
· Larson Bibliography
· Cobb County
· Religion Dispatches

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